THE vaults of Cheshire Constabulary contain many gems, but we are reminded here of one of our more colourful stars.

At 6ft 4in, with a vibrant personality and sense of adventure, our hero was once described by The Guardian newspaper as bearing a “striking resemblance” to the film star John Wayne.

Many people may not know that television favourite “Blaster” Bates, a demolition expert and after-dinner speaker, was also a Special Constable 235 in Crewe between 1968 and 1980.

Derek Macintosh Bates (aka Blaster) also played Rugby Union for Cheshire Constabulary.

The link between the star and the force was highlighted by Integrated Offender ManagerIain Paterson who asked if we could feature him. Bates was born in February 1923 in Crewe, and started as an apprentice at Rolls Royce. During the Second World War he served as a Halifax Bomber pilot, where he learned explosive skills as a bomb disposal expert.

Iain said that after the war Bates lost his role at Rolls Royce, as they were cutting staff.

“When he lost his job, he set up in business as a demolition expert. He was also a famous raconteur appearing on Parkinson a couple of times during the ‘70s and recording several LPs of his one man show,” Iain said.

“The ‘Knickerbrook’ corner at Oulton Park was so named after he disturbed a courting couple there when he blew up a tree that was very close to them. He was also a motorcycle stunt rider.”

Bates earned a reputation as an expert in demolishing high-stack chimneys, both in the UK and abroad. He is credited with changing the landscape of northern England after demolishing more than 500 chimney stacks in in the region – leading to his nickname “Blaster Bates.”

He was an entertaining and witty raconteur on radio, television, records and the after-dinner circuit talking about his experiences. Exciting hobbies including stunt motorcycling, shooting and hunting, also provided material.

He appeared to have no fear, often carrying sticks of his explosives in his pockets, which he sometimes produced in court when giving evidence. Few people understood that they were harmless without a detonator.

He founded the Hydra and Full Bore Sporting Rifle Club and was its lifelong president. He contracted diabetes in later life, and after loosing both legs due to the condition had to be wheeled up to the shooting point in his chair.

Bates was admitted to hospital with congestive heart failure in August 2006, and sadly died the following month aged 83. He was buried at St Mary’s Church in Sandbach.